Critical Thinking and Writing
Probably the most important distinctive feature of the philosopher's approach to critical thinking concerns the role of the undergraduate student in the discipline of philosophy. In most disciplines, merely taking an introductory course does not make one a member of the discipline. Signing up for a chemistry course, for example, does not make a student a chemist, nor does signing up for an economics course make one an economist. But even to complete an introductory course in philosophy, a student must think of herself as a philosopher. Part of the student's job, of course, is to understand what an author like Plato or Descartes is trying to say. But she must also think on her own about the questions the philosophers consider, asking herself, How would I answer this question? What problems are there with the philosopher's arguments? What is of value in the philosopher's approach to the issue? Some students find it disorienting to think this way, while others find it exciting. But it is essential to thinking like a philosopher.
Students may find the following documents helpful in learning how to think as a philosopher:
- Statements, Arguments, Validity, Soundness and Informal Fallacies
- In philosophy students are expected to understand the arguments made by philosophers, and to make their own arguments. This requires being able to recognize an argument and being able to evaluate it.
- Warrants Help Students Think Critically about Claims and Evidence
- Another basic element of thinking philosophically is the notion of warrant: What is required in order to be justified in making a claim?